$200M paper recycling facility to be built at old Wickliffe mill

New paper recycling mill coming to Wickliffe, Ky.

WICKLIFFE, Ky. (KFVS) - A $200 million paper recycling facility is set to be built on the grounds of the Wickliffe mill.

Phoenix Paper, LLC bought the property in 2018 and now says it plans to invest in the recycling facility.

According to a news release from Governor Matt Bevin’s office, company leaders plan to use the existing site to build a paper-and-pulp recycling facility.

“This new recycling facility will bring a tremendous amount of additional economic activity to the West Kentucky region for decades to come. The project will further support Phoenix Paper’s commitment to create 500 good-paying jobs in Ballard County,” Gov. Bevin said. “The company’s ongoing investment in the Wickliffe region is truly proving transformative, and it further demonstrates how Kentucky leads the way as a destination for international investment in engineering and manufacturing.”

With an estimated 700,000-ton annual capacity, the new facility is expected to receive post-consumer cardboard and mixed paper from different regional locations. It will then be cleaned and screened of the raw material, the stock will be formed and dried into industrial pulp and finished paper.

According to the governor’s office, current design and equipment specifications are being finalized with construction to start before the end of the year.

The project is expected to be finished in 14-18 months.

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is working with Phoenix Paper to ensure all necessary environmental permits are in place before opening.

In 2018, it was announced the company would buy the mill for about $16 million, refurbish it with a $150 million investment and reopen it. It was expected to create 500 full-time jobs.

The facility currently employs more than 200 people and has an annual capacity of 300,000 tons.

Verso Corp., the former owner of the mill, idled the facility in late 2015. It furloughed more than 300 employees before closing in July 2016.

Phoenix Paper’s expansion comes as the Bevin administration looks to attract investment from China.

According to the governor’s office, Kentucky is home to eight Chinese-owned facilities, currently employing about 8,700 people.

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